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1 Taking an Environmental History to Address Children’s Unique Vulnerabilities to Environmental Health Risks Joel Forman, MD Associate Professor of Pediatrics.

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Presentation on theme: "1 Taking an Environmental History to Address Children’s Unique Vulnerabilities to Environmental Health Risks Joel Forman, MD Associate Professor of Pediatrics."— Presentation transcript:

1 1 Taking an Environmental History to Address Children’s Unique Vulnerabilities to Environmental Health Risks Joel Forman, MD Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Community and Preventive Medicine Mount Sinai School of Medicine Children’s Environmental Health Faculty Champions Initiative

2 2 Learning Objectives  At the end of this session the learner will be able to:  Define ‘Pediatric Environmental Health’  Describe 5 ways in which children are uniquely vulnerable environmental exposures  Obtain an efficient Screening Pediatric Environmental Health History (Taking in to account children's unique vulnerabilities)  Access additional tools to gather a more detailed environmental history when indicated.

3 3 Outline 1. Definition: What is pediatric environmental health? 2. Historical Perspective: The changing pattern of disease in childhood 3. The Theory: Why children are not just little adults when it comes to environmental exposures 4. Evidence that supports this theory of unique vulnerability 5. Incorporating a screening pediatric environmental health history into routine well child care and ill child care

4 4 What is Pediatric Environmental Health?

5 5  Environmental health is the field of science that studies how the environment influences human health and disease  NIEHS Definition

6 6  “Environmental health includes both the direct pathological effects of chemicals, radiation and some biological agents, and the effects (often indirect) on health and wellbeing of the broad physical, psychological, social and aesthetic environment which includes housing, urban development, land use and transport.”  World Health Organization Definition

7 7 What Comprises the ‘Environment’  The natural environment  Includes physical, chemical and biological things that occur naturally in our surroundings (air, water, food, soil)  The man-made or “built” environment  Includes physical structures where people live, work and play and the consequences of human alteration to the natural environment (e.g. pollution)  The social environment  Encompasses lifestyle factors such as diet and exercise, SES and other societal influences that may affect health  NIEHS

8 8 An Operational Definition of Pediatric Environmental Health  The Diagnosis, Treatment, and Prevention of Illness due to Pediatric Exposure to Environmental Hazards  The Creation of Healthy Environments for Children

9 9 Historical Perspective The changing pattern of disease in childhood

10 10 Patterns of Disease in Children Have Changed Greatly in the Past 100 Years

11 11 The New Pediatric Morbidity A range of chronic disabling and sometimes life threatening conditions of complex and poorly defined origins that affect increasing numbers of American children today  Asthma  Developmental Disorders  Obesity  Endocrine and Sexual Development Disorders  Cancer

12 12 Environmental Exposures Linked To Pediatric Diseases  Asthma  ETS  Outdoor Air pollutants (particulates, sulfur dioxide, ozone, etc)  Mold  Pesticides (Pyrethrins)  Neurodevelopmental disorders  Lead, PCBs, Mercury, Pesticides, CO, Synthetic chemicals  Obesity  Built Environment  Endocrine disorders  Perchlorate, DDT  Cancer  Pesticides, Radon, EMFs, Solvents, Synthetic Chemicals

13 13 Environmental Related Disease Is Expensive  The US Department of Education spent $36 billion on special education services in the US in 1996  Charges for Asthma Hospitalization in NYC for 1 – 4 year olds was $33.4 million in 2000  Total annual costs are estimated to be $54.9 billion (range $ billion): $43.4 billion for lead poisoning, $2.0 billion for asthma, $0.3 billion for childhood cancer, and $9.2 billion for neurobehavioral disorders (Landrigan et al EHP 2002 Jul;110(7):721-8)

14 14 Environmental Exposures Are Preventable  Lead can be abated. Practices that create hazards can be avoided  CO poisoning can be prevented with inexpensive detectors (New NYC Law 11/1/2004)  Pesticides can be avoided – IPM  Less toxic cleaning products can be chosen  Radon can be detected and remediated  Mold can be abated and prevented (Moisture control)  Diet can be altered to reduce mercury and pesticide exposure  Water can be tested for solvents and treated or replaced

15 15 The Theory of Children’s Unique Vulnerability Why children are not just little adults when it comes to environmental exposures

16 16 Unique Vulnerabilities of Children  Children consume more food, drink more water, and breath faster than adults  Children have unique behaviors, diets, and are closer to the ground  Children have immature metabolic pathways  Young children have unique windows of vulnerability – particularly in neurodevelopment  Children have a very long ‘shelf life’

17 17 Greater Exposure  Children can have greater exposure to environmental toxins than adults. Pound for Pound of body weight children drink more water,eat more food, and breath more air than average American adults.

18 18 Unique Behaviors  Hand to mouth behavior.  Children play close to the ground.  Unique diet.

19 19 Immature Metabolic Pathways  Immature liver enzymes leads to increased blood levels and half-lives  Well documented for therapeutic drug pharmacokinetics  Not well studied for environmental toxins Ginsberg et al. Pediatric Pharmacokinetic Data: Implications for Environmental Risk Assessment for Children, Pediatrics 2004; 113:

20 20 Windows of Vulnerability  Young children are undergoing rapid growth and critical neurologic development

21 21 A Long ‘Shelf Life’  Children have a longer “shelf-life.”  They have more future years ahead to develop illnesses with a long latency from the inciting or contributing exposure.

22 22 Is It Really True? Recent Evidence That Supports This Theory of Children’s Unique Vulnerability to Environmental Toxins

23 23 Synthetic Chemicals  More than 80,000 chemicals registered with EPA  Greatest risk are 2,863 high-production-volume (HPV) chemicals (produced in amounts of 1 million pounds or more per year)  Fewer than half have been tested for Toxicity to Human Health  Less than 10% have been tested for pediatric neurotoxicity  Gaps in knowledge are particularly great in regard to developmental toxicity

24 24 Evidence of Children’s Increased Exposure  In the CDC’s 3 rd National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals (part of NHANES) many chemicals are found in greater amounts in children than adults suggesting that children really are exposed to a greater degree

25 25 DEHP  Phthalate Plasticizer  Ubiquitous use  Building Materials  Clothing  Medical Devices  Packaging  Millions of tons produced each year

26 26 DEHP  Potential Health Effects  Developmental Toxicity in animal models (rat)  Liver Toxicity in animal models  Endocrine disruption (sexual differentiation)?  Early Thelarche (breast development) associated with phthalate exposure in Puerto Rican girls. (Colon et al. EHP 2000)  Decreased Testicular weight and atrophy  Cancer?

27 27 DEHP Exposure Higher in Children Third Report on Environmental Exposure to Chemicals - CDC 2005

28 28 Chlorpyrifos  Decreased Birth Weight and Length (Pereira et al. EHP 2003)  Impaired Coordination, Memory, and fine motor skills in population exposed to multiple pesticides in Mexico (Guillete et al. EHP 1998)  EPA phased out of many uses in 2000

29 29 A Metabolite of Chorpyrifos Third Report on Environmental Exposure to Chemicals - CDC 2005

30 30 Incorporating a Screening Pediatric Environmental Health History Into Routine Well Child Care and Ill Child Care Addressing the Unique Vulnerabilities of Childhood

31 31 Why Take an Environmental History?  Clinicians can help identify and/or prevent hazardous exposures  Asking smokers about their smoking and advising them to quit has a positive quit-smoking effect on a population basis  Educating parents about sun protection increases their use of sunscreen for their children  Although there is little direct evidence of the effect of health provider education for other toxic environmental exposures it is reasonable to be optimistic that this positive effect will generalize.

32 32 When To Take An Environmental History  Health supervision (“well child”) visits  Use screening environmental history  Visits for illness  Unusual presentations  Persistent or puzzling/non-specific symptoms  Multiple persons with same symptoms

33 33 Well Child Visits  History, PE, monitoring growth and development, giving immunizations, performing screening tests  Anticipatory guidance  25-40% of US pediatricians’ time spent in well child care * * 2000 Nelson’s Textbook of Pediatrics

34 34 Integrating Questions About Environment Into The History  Many areas of questioning are already part of the history  Using Screening History Form can ensure completeness  Supplemental Form provides additional information  PEH Primer gives background information

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36 36 Screening History  Where child lives or spends time  Exposure to secondhand smoke (SHS)  Water source; food exposures  Sun exposure  Exposure related to parents’ occupations  Other concerns elicited from parent

37 37 Addressing Unique Vulnerabilities in the History  Children have unique behaviors, diets, and are closer to the ground - Therefore must consider:  Where child lives or spends time  Sun Exposure  Day Care and School are the child’s occupational setting  Hand to mouth behavior - Lead dust ingestion  Play spaces are potentially hazardous - e.g. Basements  Children get ~25% of lifetime sun exposure occurs during childhood and adolescence 1 1- Godar et al. Photochem Photobiol 2003

38 38 Addressing Unique Vulnerabilities in the History  Children consume more food, drink more water, and breath faster than adults - Therefore must consider:  Water source  Food Sources  SHS  Type of Heating/Cooling System  CO detectors

39 39 Addressing Unique Vulnerabilities in the History  Children have immature metabolic pathways - Therefore must consider:  Exposure to water contaminants like Nitrites - methemoglobinemia  Synthetic Chemicals - may have different kinetics than adults with potentially different and greater health impacts

40 40 Addressing Unique Vulnerabilities in the History  Young children have unique windows of vulnerability and a long ‘Shelf Life’ - Therefore must consider:  Potential neurodevelopmental impact of chronic low level exposures like lead and pesticides  Potential cancer risks (long latency) from UV Light exposure and Radon

41 41 NEEF Tools to Guide the Pediatric Environmental History  Primer  Screening Form  Additional History  Environmental History for Asthma

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46 46 Contact Information Leyla Erk McCurdy Senior Director, Health & Environment National Environmental Education Foundation Phone:


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